A majority of household waste in Malé is collected by expatriate workers, each of whom dispose waste for an average of ten households every day, according to a survey by the state-owned Waste Management Corporation.
The survey, which has not been published yet, shows households in Malé do not separate waste, Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim said on Monday.
Thoriq said the market survey comes ahead of WAMCO’s plans to take over waste collection and management in Malé. The company, which was handed a contract to manage the capital’s waste last December, hopes to begin operations by the end of the year.
“There has been a lot of preparation for this. I have received information that contracts have been signed to buy some of the equipment needed for the program,” Thoriq said.
Garbage collectors use bicycles to transport waste to a barge moored at the Malé harbour during the evening. The garbage is then transported to the industrial island Thilafushi and used as landfill or burnt.
WAMCO will also build a waste management system in Thilafushi with an incineration facility, Thoriq said.
More than 200,000 tons of industrial and domestic waste were sent to Thilafushi in 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to government figures.
Campaign groups have highlighted the risks to workers from toxic fumes and the contamination of surrounding lagoons by floating garbage.
The housing ministry has meanwhile announced plans to build a US$10million industrial village in Malé, which will house a garbage dump.
The former Maldivian Democratic Party-led government had signed a contract with India-based Tatva Global Renewable Energy in 2011 to provide waste management services in and around Male, including establishing a system to generate power from recycling waste.
However, the current government of President Abdulla Yameen cancelled that deal late last year, having previously sought to renegotiate it on “more mutually beneficial” terms.